Saturday, August 19, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 28

Today is our 39th wedding anniversary. In a happy coincidence, the couple who sang at our wedding is here in town visiting us. It is fitting to go with this writing prompt as the question of the week.

Tell the story of how you met your own true love, what first attracted you to him, and how long it took for you to know he was “the one”?

Alpha Sigma Phi
Jim and I met our freshman year at Iowa State University. Having neither the interest nor the cash to try to get into a sorority, I lived in Freeman Hall. Jim, on the other hand, pledged the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity located on the other side of campus. A friend from high school, Todd Buckton, also pledged at the same time as Jim. The Alpha Sigs had a Little Sister organization in the house. These organizations were formed in the late 1960s to early 1970s as an opportunity for the brothers to have social interaction with gals without the stress of dating, for the fraternity to receive help with service projects, etc. Each new gal received a Big Brother to help with the transition to college life, and the upper class gals were assigned a Little Brother to do the same for them.

The new pledges were expected to invite freshman girls to the Little Sister rush party in the fall, and Todd called and invited me to come over. I went, and was later asked to be in the organization. While I met all the brothers at the party and later the Little Sister initiation ceremony, Jim first stood out to me at a mixer between the fraternity and the Little Sisters. Held at a bar right before spring break, I clearly remember spending a lot of time talking to him and his two roommates, Jon and Steve. Jim mentioned that he was going skiing with some friends back home during our time off, and I remember being jealous because 1) I had never skied before, and 2) we never did anything during school breaks.

May 1975
When classes resumed I decided that I was going to invite Jim to a dance my dorm was planning for later spring in Des Moines. I didn't want to call the frat house and ask for him in case the person answering the phone that night recognized my voice. I had a friend from the dorm call instead, and when he got on the line I popped the question. He said he would like to go. Because he wanted to become more acquainted before the dance, he came over to the dorm one day and helped my roommate and me paint our room. Then he asked me out to see the movie Jeremiah Johnson. He borrowed Todd's Volkswagen Beetle to pick me up as he didn't have a car. We had a very nice evening, and it smoothed the way for the dance.

We dated exclusively all through college, and the more time I spent with him, the more I realized how much we had in common. Meeting his parents when they came to Ames to attend a play was the icing on the cake as they were great, and he got to meet my parents when we went to Des Moines for the dance. In fact, six of us spent the night at my mom and dad's house after the dance ended. 

Alpha Sigma Phi pin
The only time we had a brief breakup occurred during sophomore year, over something inconsequential. We were soon reunited, and never looked back. By junior year I was wearing his fraternity pin, and senior year we got engaged. We married less than three months following our graduation from Iowa State and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wedding Day August 19, 1978


Footnote: The Little Sister organizations were abolished in the mid 1990s for various concerns including liability, suggestions that the organizations discriminated by gender, and other obscure reasoning.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 27

This week I am going back to school with my story.

Who was your favorite school teacher? Why?

Mr. Wadden 1974
There are several teachers I remember throughout my school years, which is amazing since my memory has never been the greatest. Sister Mary Geneva from second grade was young and very kind. Sister Liguori, while older and more stern, was very supportive of my poetry writing in fifth grade. Mrs. Yelick in 8th grade reinforced my love of English, and Mr. Parker in 11th grade understood that American History would be more interesting to his students if he let them select projects that appealed to them while at the same time imparted knowledge about our country's history. I still remember my presentation that discussed how the music of the roaring '20s contrasted with that of the '30s as the country fell into the Great Depression. The music was a reflection of the tone of the country. But the teacher who most influenced my life was Mr. Wadden, who taught A.S.P. English.

I signed up for Advanced Special Placement English, which would be called AP English today, my senior year of high school. I had heard that it was a challenging class, which most kids tend to shy away from their final year of high school. But hey, it was English, so I wanted in. My friend Kim was in the same class as me, and we tentatively made our way into the room together on the first day. As Mr. Wadden explained the curriculum and work load for the class, you could see the looks of dismay on the faces of many of the students. He said that if any of us did not want to put in the full effort for the class, we were welcome to leave. And a handful of students did exactly that.

Kim and I stuck it out, and while the class did entail a lot of work, Mr. Wadden was mostly bark and no bite. I think he just wanted to separate the serious students from those who were looking for an easy ride their last year in school. There was a lot of reading required in the class, and he taught us to critically examine what we were reading. From there we had to write papers discussing the meanings of what we had read. His class not only changed the way I read books, but my writing skills improved dramatically.

Those skills carried through in college as well as every job I have held since then. Mr. Wadden is one of the biggest reasons that I am a published author today. I am so grateful that I was able to tell him exactly that when we met at my 40th high school reunion a few years ago. He attended the reunion because I invited him. It was humbling to learn that I was a student he remembered out of all the thousands he had taught throughout the years. He recalled my friendship with Kim and the unique name we called ourselves. Way before Brad and Angelina became known as Brangelina, we were the Kimlers (Kim Kubler and Kim Taylor). Mr. Wadden also asked if I had indeed gone on to Iowa State University. (I did.) At any rate, it was wonderful to see him and his wife at our reunion. It's not often that we get to show appreciation to our teachers, and let them know that they made a difference. Thanks, Mr. Wadden!

me with Mr. Wadden in 2014

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 26

In my post for Week 22, the prompt asked about how my parents met, and then also how my grandparents met. While I knew the story about my parents, I was unsure about my grandparents. I was in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago and took the opportunity to ask my two aunts the question of how their parents met.

How did your grandparents meet and fall in love?

Margie, me and Betty
There were eight children in my mom's family, with only two surviving today. Aunt Margie turned 95 recently, and her surprise birthday party was one of the reasons I was in Cincinnati. Aunt Betty's birthday was last month, and she turned 90. They are both an inspiration to the family as they are fairly healthy, active and living on their own.

While at the party, I took the opportunity to ask them if they knew how their parents had met. Aunt Margie did not remember ever hearing the story. Betty believes that Michael Crusham and Mary Barbara (Mayme) Metz met at a picnic in a park in Delhi (a township in Hamilton County).

I explained to them both that as I was looking through notes in preparation for some research I was going to do while in Cincinnati, I had found a reference to an interview I did with their older sister Marie back in 1994. Marie told me that Mayme had a friend named Rose Kenney, and she would sometimes spend the night at Rose's house. She thought that is where Mike and Mayme met. But she said that Mike also may have been a friend of Rose's future husband, John Buchanan. I shared this story with Margie and Betty, and neither one had heard this version.

So the bottom line is that I really don't know for sure how my grandparents met. What I do know is that they were married at St. Aloysius Church in Cincinnati on 21 June 1911. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June of 1961. By November, Michael was dead.

Mike and Mayme, seated, along with Mike's brother
Edward and Mayme's sister Helen